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another refers to justice. Paul says, “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his GRACE:" while John, writing under the direction of the same Spirit, tells us, that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and JUST to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." It is worthy of remark, too, that in both these passages pardon is connected with atonement; in the former mention being made of ' redemption through the blood' of Christ, and in the context of the latter reference being made to the blood of Jesus Christ God's Son which cleanseth from all sin. This is agreeable to other parts of scripture; as, for example, when Paul, writing to the Romans, in one verse ascribes forgiveness through the redemption of Christ to grace, and in the very next speaks of it as a manifestation of justice. 'Being justified freely by his GRACE, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his RIGHTEOUSNESS for the remission of
Can anything more distinctly prove that the inspired writers had no notion whatever of an essential incompatibility between justice and grace, or between atonement and free favour?
2. The objection overlooks the origin of Christ's satisfaction.
It did not originate with man, but with God. Man did not find a surety for himself; it was God
11 1 John i. 9.
12 Rom. iii. 24, 25.
that found out the ransom. If another than God who pardons sin had provided the ground on which the pardon rests, there might have been room to deny the graciousness of the act. But as it is God that provides the Mediator, the work of the Surety, so far from interfering with the freeness of man's forgiveness, becomes the most illustrious proof and confirmation of divine grace.
God manifests his grace in determining to pardon man; it is farther displayed in providing a legal ground on which pardon might proceed in consistency with justice; and it is again brought into view in accepting the satisfaction offered by the Surety, which he was not bound in absolute justice to do.
3. The objection also overlooks the circumstance, that although the satisfaction of Christ may be regarded as a legal purchase of pardon, the bestowment of pardon is altogether an act of grace as regards the persons on whom it is conferred.
It is free pardon at least to men. They have no claim; no satisfaction is made by them; they do nothing to procure for themselves forgiveness. If the pardon of sin is an act of justice at all, it is so only to Christ; to the sinner it is one of pure sovereign goodness. It flows through an equitable channel ; it proceeds on a righteous foundation ; the ground on which it rests is such as to meet every claim of divine justice : but, as regards the spring from which it issues and the objects on whom it terminates, it is wholly a display of superabounding mercy. · Being justified through the redemption
that is in Jesus' is thus no way inconsistent with being justified freely by God's grace.' Fancy to yourselves,' says Dr Wardlaw, “a band of traitors, apprehended, convicted, condemned, lying in irons under the sentence which their crimes have deserved. Suppose their prince, naturally benignant, desirous to extend mercy to them ; but at the same time, wise and righteous and mindful of the interests of the community, as well as benignant, solicitous to effect this in such a way as may at once secure the dignity and authority of his government, attach the hearts of the criminals to its administration and to himself, and impress all his subjects with the conviction that the remission of the penalty in the particular case implies no relaxation of the rigour of the law and the stability of its sanctions. Suppose that, in such circumstances, he should contrive some method by which these ends might be effectually answered ; and that, having completed his scheme, and publicly announced its purpose, he should give his clemency its desired indulgence:—would the pardon now be less a matter of free favour or grace to the delinquents ? Clearly not. The scheme does not render them one whit more deserving of it. It does not lessen their guilt : it rather shows its magnitude, by declaring it such as could not be passed by without some precautionary means for securing the honour of the prince and the respect due to his government; nay, it aggravates instead of extenuating, by showing the character of the prince, and government against which the rebels had risen up,
not a ruthless tyrant and an oppressive despotism, but a paternal ruler and an administration of equity and love. The pardon is to them, therefore, as much an act of mercy as ever :-and the character of the prince stands forth to more prominent view and to more rapturous admiration, as adorned with the twofold excellence, of a gracious solicitude to show mercy, and at the same time a decided attachment to righteousness, and a determination, for the good of his subjects, that its claims shall not be trifled with, but shall be maintained inviolate.-In like manner, the divine Ruler's adopting a plan for maintaining the honour of his character and government in the dispensation of forgiveness, does not, in the least degree, render that forgiveness less a matter of pure 'grace to those who receive it.—And, while it is pure grace, it is also rich :rich indeed! that provided such an atonement and rich indeed! which, on the ground of the atonement so provided, blots out, to every sinner who partakes of it, so vast an amount of evil, and yet embraces among its favoured objects a multitude which no man can number, out of all kindreds, and peoples, and nations, and tongues !!**
4. These remarks may be deemed a sufficient reply to the objection. But, in refutation of the Socinian's favourite position, we may perhaps go farther still.
It may fairly be questioned, whether there could have been seen to be grace at all in the pardon of sin, had it not been for the atonement of Christ. Had God pardoned sin without satisfaction, our opponents think he would have given some satisfactory display of his grace.
13 Essays on Assurance and Pardon, pp. 199, 200.
We are inclined to suppose, on the contrary, that, in such a case, there would have been no proof of grace at all.
Make the supposition that God had pardoned sin without an atonement, and pardoned not only some but all the family of man, and what is the inference which intelligent and moral beings should have been disposed to draw from this act ? That God is gracious, and that his grace is altogether without limits? We pre sume not. Would it not be a much more reasonable inference that sin, the violation of his law, was no evil, no great evil at least, not such an evil as it had been supposed to be, seeing it could be so easily passed over by a Being of absolute moral perfection? This, we have no hesitation in saying, would be the more natural inference of the two. If even the awful view of sin's magnitude which the cross of Christ is fitted to give is found insufficient to prevent men from thinking lightly of it, it is not to be supposed that their sense of its turpitude would have been enhanced by the absence of an atonement. 'So far then is it from being true, that the mercy of God would have been ready to forgive the sinner without atonement had justice allowed it, and that it would have been highly honoured by so doing, that the very existence of mercy can be proved only by the atonement. Remove that proof of it, and I may